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SAA grinds to a halt as BRPs ground all flights, repatriations or otherwise

The business rescue practitioners (BRPs) of SA Airways (SAA) have said all flights, repatriations or otherwise, would be halted on Friday. Karen Sandison African News Agency (ANA)

The business rescue practitioners (BRPs) of SA Airways (SAA) have said all flights, repatriations or otherwise, would be halted on Friday. Karen Sandison African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 6, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – The business rescue practitioners (BRPs) of SA Airways (SAA) have said all flights, repatriations or otherwise, would be halted on Friday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced on Wednesday evening.

This was during Gordhan’s briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises and the Select Committee on Public Enterprises and Communications on the latest developments at state-owned entities (SOEs).

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The minister told committee members that R5.5 billion was made available to SAA’s BRPs and spent over the past five months. Gordhan also requested the BRPs to reduce their fees.

“We have called on the BRPs themselves, which would include some accounting firms, to actually reduce their fees by anything up to 40 percent so that they also contribute, like the staff would be contributing, to a proper outcome of this process … we have engaged one of the practitioners on the reduction of fees,” said Gordhan.

He called on the BRPs not to engage in any firesale of the airline’s assets and said there should be no liquidation when in fact there were many alternatives that could be pursued. The minister said the BRPs were still in charge of SAA and the airline was still in business rescue with the potential of being improved, or return as a new airline that would not return to its old path.

SAA entered a local form of bankruptcy protection in December in a last-ditch effort to either save or liquidate the national carrier, which has not turned a profit since 2011.

The state-owned airline has been on state life support that has cost the Treasury more than R20 billion over the past three years. Rescue specialists Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana last month proposed severance packages for all staff after the government said SAA would receive no more cash.

But the National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the SA Cabin Crew Association went to the Labour Court to try to block the cuts.

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